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Katuki (Picrorhiza kurroa) - Medicinal Uses, Benefits and Dosage

picrorhiza natural herbs

English: Kutki, yellow gentian

Hindi: Kutaki

Sanskrit: Katukarohini

Kutki has long been known as a curative and preventive medicine and many complex preparations handed down from ancient Indian, Greek and Arabian physicians include it among their ingredients. In Indian mythology the herb is said to have been administered by Dhanwantary, the god of medicine himself, and because of this it is also known as Dhanwantary grastya.


A perennial herb mainly confined to the alpine Himalayas, found between 2500 and 3600 m altitude.

Botanical description

A perennial, woody herb, with greyish-brown, cylindrical, irregularly curved rootstock. The leaves are spatulate, serrate, 5-10 em long, with rounded tips and a narrowed base. The flowers are small, in spikes, with oblong or lanceolate bracts which are as long as the calyx and dark-violet in colour.

Parts used

Dried root, rhizome.

Traditional and modern use

The dried root and rhizomes are used as a hepatoprotective, antiasthmatic, immunomodulatory and antiinflammatory agent, particularly for liver disorders and jaundice, chest and digestive disorders, fever, dysentery and diarrhoea.

Ethnoveterinary usage

Picrorrhiza kurroa is used in various diseases, including fever, in domestic animals.

Major chemical constituents
Iridoid glycosides

Ku tkoside, picroside- 1, II, III, IV, V, veronicoside, specioside and pikuroside have been isolated from the rootS.

Cucurbitacin glycosides

Over 20 cucurbitacin glycosides have been reported.


Phenolic compounds including apocynin/l androsin4 and vanillic acid14 and flavonoids have been reported.

Medicinal and pharmacological activities

Hepatoprotective activity: The hepatoprotective and therapeutic effect of Picrorrhiza kurroa roots have been shown in diverse models of liver injury. The crude extract, and the isolated active principles of the roots, have been shown to protect the liver from various types of drug-induced injury. In a clinical study on patients with hepatitis and jaundice, kutki produced significantly reduced serum bilirubin levels, together with a more rapid clinical recovery from jaundice and without any untoward effects. In a prospective double-blind controlled clinical trial of Picrorrhiza kurroa and Berberis aristata in patients with viral hepatitis, P kurroa proved to be superior. Isolated compounds from Picrorrhiza kurroa have also been shown to have hepatoprotective activity. Picroliv, a specific combination of iridoid glycosides from P kurroa, has been reported to inhibit drug-induced hepatocarcinogenesis and to prevent the biochemical changes in Wistar rats administered with aflatoxin Bland phenobarbitone experimentally. A herbo-mineral preparation, Arogyavardhini vati, containing P kurroa as the major ingredient, has been evaluated in two small clinical studies. Administration in a dose of 500 mg thrice daily for 3 weeks led to a significant improvement in clinical symptoms including appetite stimulation and a significant lowering of the serum transaminases (SGPT, SGOT) and serum bilirubin in the first week of the treatment. The medicine was well tolerated.

Immunomodulatory activity: Picrorrhiza kurroa is considered to be one of the most promising immunomodulatory agents of herbal origin. Various solvent extracts were screened for their influence on complement-mediated haemolysis and on the production of luminol-dependent chemiluminescense by activated human neutrophils. All exhibited dose-dependent inhibitory effects, the methanolic and aqueous extracts being the most potent. In an experimental study in mice, the oral administration of Picroliv (a standardised fraction of iridoid glycosides) prior to immunisation with sheep red blood cells resulted in a significant increase in haemagglutinating antibody titre, plaque-forming cells and delayed hypersensitivity response to SRBC. Picroliv further enhanced the non-specific immune response characterised by an increase in the macrophage migration index.

Antiasthmatic activity: P kurroa has been studied extensively for its antiasthmatic activity. A pilot study of 10 patients with acute bronchial asthma given a dose of 160 mg powder twice daily produced evidence of objective and subjective improvement.In another study in 20 patients, the crude extract of P kurroa roots reduced the frequency and severity of asthmatic attacks and the need for regular bronchodilators. The activity has been attributed to compounds such as androsin and apocynin, which have been shown to inhibit allergen- and PAF-induced bronchoconstriction. In another study, androsin produced an inhibition of ovalbumin- and PAF-induced bronchial reactions. The antiallergic and antianaphylactic activity of Picroliv has also been investigated in vitro and in vivo. A dose of 25 mg/kg inhibited passive anaphylaxis in mice and rats and protected mast cells from degranulation, but bronchospasm induced by histamine could not be inhibited.

Antiinflammatory activity: In a variety of test models, powdered roots, the alcohol extract and the active constituents kutkin, picroside-1 and kutkoside demonstrated antiinflammatory activity in adjuvant-induced and formaldehyde arthritis in rats and mice.

Other activities: It has antioxidant, anticholestatic hypolipidaemic, and laxative activity.

Safety profile

No major untoward reactions have been reported when used within recommended doses, although in large doses the herb is reported to be laxative and mild gastric irritation may occur.


  • Dried root powder: 1-1.5 g

Ayurvedic properties

  • Rasa: Tikta (bitter)
  • Guna: Laghu (light), ruksha (dry)
  • Veerya: Shita (cold)
  • Vipaka: Katu (pungent)
  • Dosha: Pacifies kapha and pitta

Where to Buy Kutki Powder?

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Yakrit Plihantak Churna - Herbal Cure for Liver Problems

Yakrit Plihantak Churna

Yakrit Plihantak Churna is a herbal mixture of rare herbs to improve liver function. It helps the liver in clearing away the toxins. It regenerates the liver cells and prevents liver failure. It is useful in liver cirrhosis, jaundice, liver damage due to alcohol, toxins and infection. The herb Katuki increases the bile production whereas Makoye, Bhringraj and Kalmegh improve liver function. Punarnava and Bhumi amla regenerate liver cells and are useful in liver enlargement and inflammation. Giloy is immunomodulator and corrects liver metabolism. The combination of herbs is a wonderful remedy for all liver problems.* Read more

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